Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thunder - Tuesday 20th December - Rock City, Nottingham

Thunder , for those that could see them!
So, Thunder are back. Or are they? Time will tell if this was a one-off return for the traditional Christmas shows in Nottingham, or the rebirth of a fantastic band. I for one, hope the latter.

The downside is that they continue to play at the dreadful Rock City. The venue holds 1900 people. It was full, very full. You can only see the whole stage if you are either a) directly in front of it or b) in the front row of the balcony. Everyone else can see either nothing or very little. This leads to pushing, arguing and general unpleasantness. It take ages to get in and an age to filter out. It's a real shame as the admin side of things (website, ticket sales, staff etc) are all excellent, but it makes for the worst gig experiences I have anywhere.

OK rant over - awful venue, great band. The usual mix of covers and Thunder Classics. The band played a bit safe with the selection of their own material and the covers were a bit hit and miss (blank stares all round at a couple of them), but it was still a good night. Indeed, the finale of "Merry Christmas Everybody" seemed slightly more authentic than Slade's a few nights earlier!!

With hotel booked and a lie in the next morning, we upped the average age by joining the students in the "Rescue Rooms" nightclub (after a fun go at the "Countdown" board game in the pub!). £1.90 a pint of San Miguel possibly contributed to the hangover the next day!

I have subsequntly found out the the 1st World Darts Final was played at the venue now known as Rock City! As Richard asked, how did they see a thing?

Everybody Wants Her
Living for Today
We Can Work It Out
Everybody's Laughing
Come & Get It
The Thrill of It All
You Wear It Well
You're My Best Friend
Once in a Lifetime
Just Another Suicide (You Wanna Know)
The Devil Made Me Do It
Higher Ground
Castles In The Sand
Living For The City
Gimme Some Lovin'
Like A Satellite
You Can't Keep A Good Man Down
Live and Let Die
Love Walked In
I Love You More Than Rock 'N' Roll
A Better Man
Dirty Love
Merry Xmas Everybody

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Slade - Sunday 19th December - Koko, Camden

Dave Hill
A Koko debut this year for Slade. Well, that's the name they used, but it's not Slade for me without Noddy (Holder) and Jim (Lea).

So, let's say, an evening with Slade II. Original members Don Powell and Dave Hill were greated like returning hero's by a pleasingly large turnout. The whole event was for the Lord's Taverners charity, so let's hope they made some cash, DJ (and fan) Mike Read did the introductions and then followed a run through of basically "The Best of Slade".

Two things stood out for me. One, Dave Hill is an excellent guitarist. The riffs were spot on and he clearly enjoys playing to the crowds. Two, the vocals. Ouch! Now nobody can replace Noddy, so maybe they shouldn't try. The vocals for the first few songs were shouted and just a bit off-key. As the show warmed up and the songs were actually "sung" - it all started to sound a bit better and I especially enjoyed "Lock Up Your Daughters". All filmed for DVD release if you want to check it out for yourself.

The very early start meant the closing song (no prizes for guessing the obvious) was all done and dusted before 9pm. An early night all round!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Def Leppard - Wednesday 14th December - Wembley Arena

Off to North London to the "hangar" for a rock "double-header". Skipping support "Steel Panther", we arrived to find Motley Crue in full swing. Taking a safe view from miles away, we were "treated" to an expletive filled set of actually quite fun material.

Regular readers will know how much I detest drum solos, but even I will admit that Tommy Lee's rollercoaster "wheel" was entertaining. I enjoyed a snippet of the "Leader's" Rock And Roll Part 2 before "Smoking in The Boys Room" and of course, "Girls Girls Girls" was a masive singalong. Quite whether I wanted to be called a "MotherF****r" so often I'm not so sure. It didn't really add much and we stopped counting at around 100 profanities.

Excellent timing of Beer runs and Gents visits meant we moved forward about 80 yards for Def Leppard. They were solid and in good touch with the audience. As it was the last night of the tour, I'd expected a guest or 2 (Brian May, Ian Hunter?), but no such luck.

Richard was only half believing when I pointed out that the version of "Bringing On The Heartache" was not as heavy as the other rendition I'd heard in the same venue - by Mariah Carey !!

Let It Go
C'mon C'mon
When Love and Hate Collide
Two Steps Behind (Acoustic)
Bringin' on the Heartbreak
Switch 625
Armageddon It
Pour Some Sugar on Me
Love Bites
Let's Get Rocked

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Status Quo - Sunday 11th December - O2 Arena, London

All on stage for the "grand" finale!
The Home - Brighton - Home - Greenwich O2 cycle continues with a return the the O2. Pretty much the same as Brighton except we skipped Kim Wilde's set. Some very drunk people around us made me think it was going to get unpleasant but as it turned out everyone behaved (even if the bloke in front was blatantly smoking weed whilst standing next to a steward!).

I actually quite enjoyed Francis completely messing up the last verse of Paper Plane with a random selection of words from other verses and it was nice to see the venue fairly packed (notwithstanding the top level was curtained off). Some of the people near us had not read up on the encore and their faces were a picture when Winter Wonderland started. A mixture of bemusement and horror!

See Brighton for the setlist - you didn't think it would change did you?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Status Quo - Friday 9th December - Brighton Centre

Back down to Brighton for the Quo. Or more precisely the "Quofestive" as it is billed. A mini "festival", which includes Kim Wilde and Roy Wood. Not an obvious bill I think you'd agree, but artists I certainly don't mind, although a different setting may work better.

Kim Wilde delivered her greatest hits, although the sound guy appeared reluctant to give her vocals any sort of amplification for much of the set. She appeared quite giggly - some of our party were suggesting a bit of over indulgance on Xmas cheer - but it might well have been nerves. All pleasant enough though and with her niece Scarlett helping out on backing vocals adding to the experience, it was an enjoyable set.

Roy Wood was OK - I really enjoyed seeing him a couple of years back (he was my muscial hero aged 5 !!), but there was something a bit lacking this time around. Maybe a couple of favourites missing from the set? I couldn't quite figure out what wasn't quite so good.

Quo were on last as you'd expect - with an unfortunately shorter set than previous years (well they are getting on a bit - maybe hence the multi-act lineup). They were good up until the encore, albeit without much imagination for setlist changes.

Then we got the changes. Let's just say I was glad I'd been forwarned - Kim and Roy came out to join in a Medley of "Winter Wonderland" & "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town". No, No, No !!

Most seemed to have songsheets on stage and it was a little shambolic - save Francis's quite cool guitar solo on Winter Womderland. I'm reluctant to be too critical as I'd much rather they changed the set and sometimes get it wrong rather than keep playing the same old stuff, but I trust this will be a one off medley for this tour....... please!

Something 'bout You Baby I Like
The Wanderer
Rock 'n' Roll 'n' You
Mean Girl
Beginning Of The End
Proposin' Medley
Big Fat Mama
Two Way Traffic
The Oriental
Let's Rock
Paper Plane
Living On An Island
In The Army Now
Drum Solo / The Killer
Roll Over Lay Down
Down Down
Whatever You Want
Rockin' All Over The World
Burning Bridges
Walking In A Winter Wonderland / Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Bryan Adams - Thursday 8th December - O2 Arena, London

More BA - this time at the O2. And I was right, the screens work in an arena this size - and when you're miles away as we were (see picture) are very useful.

Shame Bryan no longer mixes up the setlist from night to night - we got the same show as Brighton, but I actually enjoyed tonight a little more than last. Billed as celebrating "20 Years since the release of Waking Up The Neighbours", there was a resonable amount of material from Bryan's 2nd best album after Reckless (argue amongst yourselves!).

See last night for setlist.

Bryan Adams - Wednesday 7th December - Brighton Centre

I remember seeing Bryan at the Brighton Centre in 1987 on the "Into The Fire" tour. After opening with a blistering "Only The Strong Survive" he seemed in a particularly bad mood - he told the audience that he'd had some negative comments about the bare stage set (it was drums, keyboards and speakers - no backdrops, flashy lights etc) before telling us that "If we'd come to see a lightshow, we'd come to the wrong ****** show!" and that they were just a no-nonsense rock band.

24 years later and a few things have changed. The band are still a great rock band. Bryan is trading licks with long term guitar partner, Keith Scott. (having thankfully abandoned a few years ago what Richard acurately describes as "the bass debacle"!). But I wasn't anticipating the massive LCD screen at the back of the screen which dominated proceedings. The mainly black and white graphics were stunning from a technology point of view, but from our view near the front were quite a distraction. I would imagine it will work better in larger venues.

The set was solid - slightly less reliant on ballads than some of his shows of recent years and the performance good. There was just a part of me harking back to 1987 when an angry younger man had delivered a pulsating 2 hrs plus of rock and roll in one of the best performances of what must be close to the 100 odd times I've seen him. Times have changed and we all get older...

House Arrest
Here I Am
All I Want Is You
Can't Stop This Thing We Started
I'm Ready
Thought I'd Died And Gone To Heaven
Hearts On Fire
Do I Have to Say the Words
18 'til I Die
Back to You
Summer of '69
If You Wanna Leave Me (Can I Come Too?) / Touch The Hand
(Everything I Do) I Do It for You
Cuts Like a Knife
It's Only Love
Depend On Me
When You're Gone
The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You
Run to You
There Will Never Be Another Tonight
Cloud #9
The Way You Make Me Feel
Straight from the Heart
All for Love

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Dan Baird & Homemade Sin - Friday 2nd December - Borderline

Dan and the boys at the Borderline - becoming a nice annual event. You know it'll be packed (it was!), you know it'll be loud (it was!) and you know it'll be good (it was!).

We managed to get our normal nice spot in front of the stage, which is great until you need the gents! That is not a trip for the faint hearted due to the density of the crowd and the blind steps you encounter. Previously unheard highlight for me was the exellent cover of Bad Company's "Can't Get Enough" - whether Dan's story about Mick Ralphs meaning to be there to play it was true, well who knows? "Proud Mary" in "Two For Tuesday" was pretty good too!

Only downside is that Dan does attract a couple of regular strange people to his shows and they get a little errr.. overexcited. Limb control people, limb control....

Good evening, followed off by a beverage or 2 in the "Intrepid Fox". I could swear those "Rock Chicks" are getting younger...

Magnum - Cambridge Junction - Thursday 1st December

Into December and the start of a run of gigs. New venue for me - The Junction in Cambridge meant a trip by train from Kings Cross - in my view London's worst railway terminus by some distance.Time for a couple of pubs in Cambridge - not great apart from the spot of a circular pool table. Unfortunately, I lost Richard and I's "Cambridgeshire Open" on a regular pool table - very poor indeed.

Venue itself was pretty good. Small to allow a decent view and with the bonus of Lowenbrau on draught... hapy days!

The start time meant that we would have to miss the encore in order to get the train home (and avoid 3 night buses), but what we saw was really good - including one new song from the new "Evolution" CD.

Our change for the final Tube at Severn Sisters was nearly scuppered by travelling very slowly through White Hart Lane (Unpleasant enough in daylight, let alone after midnight!) and a Usain Bolt type effort to run through the interchange and down the escalator. The train was there a minute later. Phew!

Back to Earth
When We Were Younger
Wild Angels
Brand New Morning
How Far Jerusalem
Spin Like A Wheel
The Fall
Freedom Day
Les Morts Dansant
Black Skies
All My Bridges
All England's Eyes
Kingdom Of Madness
On A Storytellers Night